helping couples reconnect with retreats & intensives

Meet Irene Oudyk-Suk, MSW, RSW

Hello! I’m Irene Oudyk Suk.


I’m happy to tell you a bit about myself.

During the time I lived in the Philippines (2003-2006) I was approached by a few couples who asked me to develop a group for ex-pat couples living in Manila, away from their home countries. “Living abroad, away from family and friends, is really challenging, and it’s hard on our relationship too,” these couples told me.

I could relate.

My husband and I were also far away from friends and family, living in a different culture, and our marriage was affected too.

So I developed a well attended and appreciated series of couple workshops for couples living in Manila. Along the way, I found a way of working in the world that to me has made such a difference.

A Heart for Couples

philippines mapLiving away from North America challenged me in a way I hadn’t been challenged before.

Regular daily living in Manila made me understand much more clearly why people flock from 3rd world countries to places such as Australia, Europe, Canada and the United States.

As I travelled around Asia I saw women and children living in the sex-trade industry in a much more visible way than I had ever seen in North America.

I wondered in a way I had never wondered before, “How can I make a difference?”

I remembered a story that tells of a person walking a beach after a storm and seeing many dying starfish along the beach. The person stopped to watch someone throw a starfish into the water. “What are you doing?” asked the walker of the one throwing marooned starfish back into the sea.

“Saving starfish,” was the answer

“But there are so many! Throwing a few back will barely change things.”

“Ah, but it makes a difference for that one,” said the beach comber as he picked up another starfish and hurled it back into the sea.

And that is how it is for me, too. I can’t single-handedly end HIV in Africa, bring peace to Afghanistan, or rebuild Real, Quezon (mudslides in Philippines that claimed hundreds of lives during the time I lived in the Philippines).

I can, however, contribute to the healing of the world by helping one couple at a time. And there are no shortage of romantic partnerships that could use a new lease on life.

Makes a difference for me, too

The effort my husband and I expended on our relationship, in the Philippines, and in adjusting back to North America, still reminds me of the challenge of living in a global village.

When my husband and I are gridlocked in argument, I sometimes succumb to words of contempt and attack. Reflecting on this, afterwards, I realize that I’ve caught a glimpse, in myself, of the divide between, for example, extremist Islam and secular Western values.

Every time my husband and I successfully manage some warm but straight talk, or reach out to heal wounds we cause, I catch a glimpse of what our global village needs–and I’m energized with new hope. That hope fuels my passion to contribute to the healing of the world by focusing on both my marriage and my work with couples.

Irene’s Experience and Training


For more information call Couples In Step at 416-459-0956 or use the contact form on this site.

Couples In Step provides 3-Day Intensive couple and marriage & relationship counselling to couples in crisis living in Ontario: Toronto, GTA, the Greater Toronto area, Hamilton, Windsor, London, Thunderbay, Kingston, Ottawa. Couples In Step also provides weekend couples marriage and workshop retreats to couples in Ontario (Toronto, Ottawa, London, Hamilton, Windsor, Waterloo, Thunderbay) wanting to deepen their marriage and couple relationship.

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